Photo by Bob Palermini
CLAREMONT, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2015) – Senior James Blackwood (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) had a hand in eight goals and SCIAC goals leader junior Christopher Bradley (Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Serra) scored the Beavers' final five to lead the Caltech men's water polo team to its first NCAA victory of the season during the two-day Gary Troyer Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
The Beavers dropped games against MIT, Occidental College and Fresno Pacific University before capping the weekend with the 10-9 victory over Penn State-Behrend.
DIII No. 9 MIT 13, Caltech 3
In the battle of the engineers, the East Coast school never dominated as the score line would suggest. Solid goalkeeping by freshmen Shaurya Gilani (Chicago, Ill. / Adlai Stevenson) and John Lloyd (San Diego, Calif. / Torrey Pines), who combined to make 17 saves, held MIT to one goal over the first four-and-a-half minutes and scoreless over the first 4:24 of the second quarter. The Engineers' pressure defense forced numerous turnovers that eventually led to five goals by halftime, but it wasn't until the end of the third quarter that MIT really got going on offense, scoring four goals in a four-minute span stretching into the 6:10 mark of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 11-0, the Beavers would have something to show for their efforts as Bradley netted twice and Blackwood made a pair of assists to generate three goals on consecutive possessions, but with the damage done the Engineers calmly stretched the margin back to double digits in a decisive victory.
DIII RV Occidental 13, Caltech 4
Friday's second game was far closer, but again the score line did not do the Beavers' effort justice. Oxy opened the scoring with a man-up goal at the 6:34 mark and tacked on another at 5:02, but Caltech soon leveled as Blackwood assisted senior Patric Eck (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) and scored himself courtesy of an assist from Bradley. Freshman Charles Ross (Wexford, Pa. / North Allegheny) unsurprisingly came up with back-to-back big saves to keep the game tied late in the quarter.
Caltech was unable to get off a shot on the first two possessions of the second quarter after winning the sprint and forcing a steal, but Oxy converted its first chance with 6:52 on the clock and stretched the lead to four by halftime. Another Tigers goal made it 7-2 before the Beavers staged a mini-rally, scoring the final two goals of the third quarter to keep the pressure on Oxy heading to the fourth. Oxy would put the game away in the final quarter, scoring five goals in a two-minute span to seal the victory.
Eck was the star of the game for Caltech as he netted a brace, drew four exclusions and made three steals. Blackwood had a hand in three goals while Bradley was held scoreless for the first time this season despite attempting 10 shots.
Fresno Pacific 15, Caltech 5
FPU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead that soon became 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Beavers recovered with the short intermission, keeping the Sunbirds off the board over the first five minutes and netting once themselves as Gilani hit Bradley up-pool to register an assist. After another Sunbird goal, sophomore Henry Baer (Lafayette, Calif. / Acalanes) connected with Ross to keep the deficit at five with 2:11 left in the half, but FPU exploded for four more goals to take a 10-2 lead into the break.
Bradley would score twice in the second half and senior Galen Gao (Irving, Texas / St. Mark's School) scored his first goal of the season but FPU cruised to the 10-goal victory. Blackwood and Bradley recorded four and three steals, respectively, with Gilani and Lloyd combining for 11 saves.
Caltech 10, Penn St.-Behrend 9
The Beavers found themselves in a surprising 3-0 hole right up until two seconds before the end of the first quarter, when Blackwood found the back of the net to get Caltech on the board. Caltech ripped three shots early in the second quarter before Blackwood netted twice more to tie the game with 3:51 remaining until halftime. Ross kept the score level with several crucial saves of his eventual 16 in the second quarter alone.
Caltech won the third quarter sprint but PSB forced a turnover and scored on the counter to take the 4-3 lead. After another two saves from Ross, Blackwood hit Eck for the equalizer at the 6:43 mark and again at 6:09 following another Lions goal. Bradley took over from there, scoring the go-ahead goal and quickly completing the hat trick to stake Caltech to an 8-5 lead. The Beavers offense fell apart in the final minutes of the quarter, however, allowing PSB to capitalize on a pair of turnovers and make it a one-goal game going into the fourth quarter.
The Lions tied the game at 8-8 just 1:15 into the quarter. The Beavers failed to convert on two man-up opportunities over the next two minutes, but Bradley had plenty left in the tank and all but handed Caltech the win with back-to-back strikes at 4:40 and 4:12. Two late turnovers gave PSB a chance to get back into the game, which the Lions took to make it a one-goal affair with 1:23 left on the clock. The Beavers came up empty on two further attempts, leaving 11 seconds for the Lions to take one final shot, which Ross stuffed to seal the victory.
Head Coach Jon Bonafede and the Beavers will play a doubleheader at Chaffey College (5-7) along with Ventura College (8-7) on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 9 and 10:30 a.m.